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15 language strategies to achieve better coaching results

Writing is indispensable in an online or blended (combination of off- and online) coaching process. Of course, it is necessary to be able to express yourself via mail, chat or text message, and this way of coaching also yields so much more than regular face-to-face coaching. A lot of research shows that writing about experiences and thoughts has a liberating effect and that writing increases your coachee's self-awareness. For you as their coach, this approach requires additional skills.


Which core message do you send back to your coachee and how do you choose your words? Ask yourself the following three questions:

  1. What do you want your message to achieve with your message?

  2. How do you connect with your coachee?

  3. What do you want to contribute as their coach?

The eCoachPro method implements the so-called politeness strategies, language strategies developed by linguists Brown & Levinson (1987).

When coaching, you are aiming for a personal yet professional communication style. In other words, the use of direct language embedded in a positive, relationship-based approach. This advice applies not only to the initial development phase of the relationship between coach and coachee but also to the entire coaching process.

The language strategies that you are advised to use are therefore mainly aimed at connecting with your coachee. The message must be clear and unambiguous, but above all, it must also include information that shows you are sensitive to the needs of your coachee.

To achieve the above-mentioned, make use of these 15 strategies:

Strategy 1: Pay attention to your coachee

Strategy 2: Exaggerate

Strategy 3: Strengthen your coachee’s interest to your contribution to the dialogue

Strategy 4: Use in-group identity markers: create a sense of belonging

Strategy 5: Seek agreement

Strategy 6: Avoid disagreement

Strategy 7: Presuppose/ raise/ assert common ground

Strategy 8: Use jokes to diminish social distance

Strategy 9: Assert or presuppose your knowledge of /and concerns for your coachee’s needs

Strategy 10: Offer or promise something

Strategy 11: Be optimistic

Strategy 12: Explicitly include yourself and your coachee in the conversation

Strategy 13: Give (or ask for) reasons

Strategy 14: Assume or assert reciprocity

Strategy 15: Give gifts  (goods, sympathy, understanding, cooperation)

Suppose you receive an e-mail from your coachee. The coaching relationship is in the development phase. Based on your interpretation of the speech acts you have distinguished in their e-mail, you analyze that your coachee is having doubts about the coaching process and is hoping for words of encouragement. In this particular situation, it would be useful to confirm or assume your knowledge of and care for the needs of your coachee (strategy 9). You could fulfill the coachee's need by showing understanding for their feelings, confirming their commitment or emphasizing the results that have already been achieved. You can then demonstrate your support by expressing your optimism (strategy 11) about the subsequent steps the coachee will be taking.

Would you like to read more?
Find our previous contributions on Tijdschrift voor Coaching (Journal of Coaching). Or get a copy of our book on E-coaching.

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Marc Coenen

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Marc Coenen eCoachPro

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